Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Hire an Expert to Help with Aging Issues

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Baby boomers like to figure it out themselves – read and research enough and you can figure out the right answer.  But, when dealing with issues around aging parents, their care and/or their money, it might be time to bring on an expert.  Why?

First, there is so much emotional baggage – for you and for them. It’s amazing what anger and resentment can come back from years ago.  It clouds thinking about the issue at hand today and how to resolve it. 

Second, the issues of aging are complex and the resources – while available – can be confusing and mind numbing.  For many of us this can be the first time at figuring out Medicare and Medicaid and VA benefits, if applicable – the differences and what’s covered.  Then there is the maze of local resources and whether you are eligible or not.  Feeling like a fish out of water, we don’t know quite what questions to ask and get mesmerized by the onslaught of acronyms. 

Third, sorting through the resources can take up valuable time.  Time you might not have, time that might be better spent solving the problem – or at least clearly understanding the options.

Fourth, you don’t know what you don’t know.  You might get it right –as far as you get, but then just don’t know the next question to ask or the resource to hunt down or the analysis that will tell you what you can afford. 

So, this just might be the right time to hire an expert.  Here are two: 

Care manager– when you are at wits end (or hopefully before) contact a geriatric care manager to help you figure out where you are and what you should do next.  These specialists can help you identify solutions and bridge family disagreements over care.  I used a care manager when my Dad was thousands of miles away.  I didn’t know the area, and she was a terrific resource in identifying options.  We end up with a local assisted living facility that worked great for him and I never would have found on my own because it was a small facility.  I also used her to check in occasionally between my visits which provided great peace of mind. This article in the NY Times provides more on care managers. 

Financial Planner or Advisor – If there are financial resources, bringing in a third party advisor to help sort out what’s there and how to optimize the use of the dollars available can be a smart move.  This is not a broker who buys and sells investments or insurance.  This is someone who can work with you on a very personal basis to look at the assets available, the goals, potential health care and long-term care costs.  You’ll pay an hourly fee for a plan.  Make sure this is someone you and your parent trust and always get references.  

 Whether or not you are involved is up to your parent, unless you have a power of attorney providing control over their financial affairs.  Consul with an elder law attorney may also be appropriate.

 Time is not on your side with many of these decisions.  So tapping into experts can help you move toward a solution and save you time and energy.

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Written by Laura Rossman

September 28, 2009 at 8:26 pm

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